Sinoatrial conduction is commonly assessed from features of the initial cycle after a single atrial extrastimulus or eight beats atrial pacing. In contrast, sinus node automaticity is assessed by the duration of the first interval after prolonged atrial pacing. The return cycle and initial sequences after these different methods were compared in 10 subjects with normal sinus node function and 30 patients with sick sinus syndrome. Typically, sequences after all three methods showed a maximally prolonged first interval with a progressive decrease over five or more cycles. A model of recovery from overdrive suppression was used to compute the elements of conduction time and automaticity in the first interval. The sequences which followed a single extrastimulus and pacing were similar, the only index which increased significantly with prolonged pacing was associated with the degree of suppression of automaticity. The computed component of sinoatrial conduction in the return cycle was similar for all three methods. Thus all three conventional methods which consider only the initial post-stimulation interval measure both sinoatrial conduction and sinus node automaticity. The separate components of automaticity and conduction may be assessed by analysis of the total sequence.
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